How soon do I have to report my on-the-job Injury?
An employee that suffers an on-the-job injury must tell his employer within 30 days after the date of the injury. It is always a good idea to report any injury to your employer, even if the symptoms improve and you don’t need medical treatment. You are better off “safe than sorry”.
Should I report my on-the-job injury if my employer is paying medical bills directly?
Yes, you should always report your on-the-job injury in a timely manner, because apart from paying the medical bills, you may also be entitled to wage benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The employer sometimes tries paying the medical bills directly to avoid having to set up a workers’ compensation claim, to save the employer money, but such action usually ends up hurting the injured employee in the long run.
Can an undocumented worker qualify for workers' compensation benefits?
Yes. They are covered the same as any worker, as long as the injured employee does not give the employer any false, fraudulent, or misleading information, such as a false social security number, for the purpose of obtaining employment and/or workers compensation benefits.
Since it was my employers and/or co-employee’s fault that I was injured, can I sue them separately?
As a general rule, No. The employer and co-employees are protected by immunity from a separate civil lawsuit which is part of the legal “trade off” provided to them under the Florida workers’ compensation laws. There are rare exceptions to that general rule, but not very often.
If I am hurt on the job, can I treat with any doctor I want?
No, when involved in a workers’ compensation claim, all the treating physicians must be preauthorized by the workers compensation carrier. The only exception is when an injured employee seeks emergency treatment soon after the injury.
After being hurt on the job, can the employer make me return to work while I am still treating with the doctors?
Yes, if the treating doctor puts medical restrictions on you, but says you can still do some type of work, then your employer can determine if they have a job for you to do that fits within those restrictions.
Can an employer bring me back to work in a different position, and for lower pay, compared to what I was doing and earning when I got hurt?
Yes, even if you cannot return to the type of job you were doing when you got hurt due to your physical restrictions, the employer can offer you another position that is within your medical restrictions , even though it may pay you less. If you return to work in a lighter duty job paying less, then depending upon how much less you earn, the workers compensation carrier may have to supplement your pay.
I don’t like the doctor the workers’ compensation carrier sent me to; can I switch doctors?
Yes, you are entitled to one change of physician per claim.
Who is responsible for all my personal bills and living expenses now that I am injured and cannot work?
Unfortunately, not the workers’ compensation carrier nor your employer. Through the workers compensation system, the injured employee is entitled to wage /indemnity benefits (at a reduced rate), and reasonable and medically necessary treatment, but neither the employer nor workers compensation carrier are responsible for an injury worker’s personal expenses.
What if I can never go back to the job/type of employment I was doing before the injury?
Depending upon the severity of the injuries and the degree of permanent problems the injured employee has; they could potentially qualify for permanent total disability benefits under the workers compensation system. Fortunately, most employees’ injuries are not that severe, and once they are released from the treating physicians, if their prior job is not available with the employer, they are free to obtain other employment. Unfortunately, following an on-the-job injury there is never a guarantee that the employee will be able to return to the type of work they did before.
What about all that I have been through? Who pays for my pain and suffering?
Unfortunately, the workers compensation system is not a perfect one, and although the workers compensation carrier is responsible to provide the injured employee with wage benefits and medical care, as appropriate, the injured employee is not entitled to any compensation for “Pain and Suffering” and what they have been through.
Since my on-the-job injury, I am seeing strange cars and/or persons around my home and neighborhood. Does this have anything to do with my case?
Frequently, after an employee suffers an on-the-job injury that prevents them from working, the workers compensation insurance carrier regularly hires investigators to conduct surveillance on the injured employee to confirm the injured employee is as hurt and disabled as they say they are to the treating doctors and the insurance company. If the injured employee is concerned and fearful with all this new, strange activity, notify the police department to come out and investigate the matter, just to be safe.
How long does my workers compensation case last?
Potentially it could last for the rest for your life, depending upon the extent of your injuries, and as long as the authorized treating doctors indicate you need on-going medical care. Fortunately, most injured employee’s claims do not last that long.
Should I settle my workers compensation case for a lump sum of money, and close it?
The decision to settle one’s workers compensation claim is a personal decision each injured employee has to make individually. It is usually favorable for an injured employee at some point to settle their claim, so their medical care and wage benefits are not being controlled by an insurance company who may not be making the best decisions on their behalf. However, once the claim is settled, the injured employee is responsible for paying for their own future medical care for their job-related injuries.
What is the cost to hire an attorney to represent me in my workers compensation case? Who pays them?
There is no out of pocket expense to hire our workers compensation attorney to represent you. The attorney is typically paid at the end of the claim, when the case is settled. In a settlement, the attorney’s fee is paid by the injured employee, and comes out of the settlement amount. However, there are times during an on-going workers compensation claim that your attorney is paid an attorney’s fee by the workers compensation carrier, but that fee is separate from the fee paid in a final settlement.
Why should I consider hiring an attorney?
The Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws are lengthy and complicated, and most injured employees are not familiar with all the rights and benefits they may be entitled to through the workers compensation system. Also, the workers compensation carrier does not work for the injured employee, and their desire is to save money on a claim, with their interest not always in line with the interests and concerns of the injured worker. Therefore, hiring an experienced workers compensation attorney to represent you may be a wise decision to protect your rights.
Once I hire an attorney, should the workers compensation insurance carrier’s representative still be calling me?
No, once you hire an attorney, the workers compensation carrier or their attorney now must communicate with the injured employee’s attorney on all issues that arise as the case is ongoing.
Once I hire an attorney, do I have to do anything else on my case?
Yes, even though you have retained an attorney to advise you of all your rights and make sure you get adequate and appropriate legal representation, there are still some activities that come up in your claim that require your participation, and your attorney will advise you accordingly.